What’s the difference between a Mole and a Dark Spot?

Dr. Anjali Butani Profile Picture

By: Dr. Anjali Butani

While moles and dark spots can look similar, they are very different.

While moles and dark spots can look similar, they are very different.


What are moles?

Scientifically knows as ‘Nevi’ moles are caused when skin cells grow in a cluster instead of spreading out evenly. 

While moles are typically not concerning, they can become cancerous over time. You should conduct monthly self checks of your skin and visit a dermatologist if anything concerns you.


What are Dark Spots?

Dark spots, also known as melasma, sun damage or hyperpigmentation and also referred to as brown spots or sun spots are caused when the skin produces too much melanin causing a discoloration beneath dermis layer of your skin.


How can I tell the difference?

Moles are protruding from the skin. Moles will feel like a bump on the surface of your skin and have a texture, while a dark spot is beneath the surface of the skin. Dark spots do not have a texture to them.


When should I worry about a Mole?

As a dermatologist I tell my patients to use ABCDE when it comes to checking their skin.

A is for Asymetry: if one side doesn’t match the other, you should see a dermatologist.

B is for Border: if the mole has an uneven border, you should see a dermatologist.

C is for Color: if the mole is uneven in color, you should have it checked out.

D is for Diameter: if the mole is larger than the size of a pencil eraser, your should have it checked out.

E is for Evolution: if you’ve noticed the mole growing fast and changing in shape or color, you should have it checked out by a dermatologist.


When should I worry about a Dark Spot?

Dark spots generally are not a cause for concern. But if you’ve never had dark spots before and suddenly developed them quickly, you may want to see a dermatologist to help pinpoint the cause and come up with a better plan for prevention.


How can I remove a Mole?

While there are some home remedies and natural methods for reducing a mole it is best to have it looked at by a dermatologist and removed if necessary or if you desire to have it removed for cosmetic reasons.


How can I remove a Dark Spot?

Dark spots can easily be removed with at home skincare products. While it takes time depending on the size and darkness of the spots, people have had great success without setting foot in a doctors office. 

You can see a dermatologist and have dark spots removed with laser procedures, but this usually takes multiple treatments and can be costly. 

A good doctor will tell you its best to try a dark spot mask for several months to see if you can get good results before you decide to have a laser treatment.


How can I prevent Dark Spots & Moles

The best prevention is Sun Protection. The less indirect exposure your skin has to the sun, the less chance you have of developing dark spots or moles.



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